The Cheating Culture of Poker: The Duplicitous Reality of Professional Poker
This is a story about how I grew to love poker and had my passion ripped away by discovering the game has lost its integrity. My name is Jordan McBride. It was my grandfather who initially taught me how to play the game, but it wasn’t until college that I started playing the game more seriously. I am a psychology major from Villa Julie College. I was raised in Kingsville, Maryland in an upper-class home. My mother is a nurse at John Hopkins and my father is the CEO of his marketing research firm. I knew that the business path was not for me, so I aimlessly sought happiness elsewhere. I was lost but I found poker as a means to focus my mind off the reality of growing up. As soon as I mastered the statistical odds of the game I quickly learned that I was a natural. I started beating my friends with ease, finding that poker was clearly a gift of mine. The rush I got from revealing and flaunting my skills to others led to my addiction to poker.
I was raised into material wealth, so the money aspect of the game was not my major concern. I was satisfied just playing for free on ESPN’s poker site. ESPN’s poker site is better than other free poker sites because it is harder to re-load fake chips, which limits the annoying idiots that ruin the game with shockingly terribly play and non-stop pre-flop all-ins. I played on ESPN ritualistically and got extremely good, which led me to becoming the cockiest shit talker in the history of poker. I started playing in tournaments and did well enough to feed my arrogance. During my pre-awakening on the site I played mostly multi-table tourneys and won often. I decided to play one of the 1400 player Sunday qualifiers one Sunday knowing that even if I played flawless poker it was likely some moron would end up sucking out on me. Dodging the land-mines of awful players in free-poker tournaments can be frustrating. Fortunately, luck was with me this time and I won the tournament and some prizes from the website. It was my real taste of genuine victory. I normally would play fake cash games instead of tournaments because the tables would not change and it was easier to consistently rub my dominance into the faces of my predictable opponents, in good humor. It was in these rooms that I was introduced to the magnitude of poker corruption.
I consider myself a master of understanding the natural patterns poker tables tend to adapt. Regardless of how good players are these patterns are always evident. It’s not really about reading the individual (which is also an aspect of the game), rather it’s more about assimilating your play to the general flow of the table to which is set by a mix of player personalities, the players positions at the table, general moods, and the players familiarity with one another. The idea is to get people to react to your style of play in order to read their reactions and compare it to the natural patterns that they unconsciously set. I found that this is far more important than any visual reads you make. I consider myself an excellent reader of player personalities. My analytical abilities led to the discovery that I wasn’t only playing against humans in ESPN poker rooms. My suspicions were supported after a series of tests I ran on various screen names that lacked human character. I tested these players’ and found that they were mathematically obvious, proven to be what we know as a “poker bot”. Once I was inflicted by this deception that victimized my trust, I became furious. Instead of using my damaging information to get in their good graces, I decided to make war. The poker moderators and site supporters put all priorities aside to figure out a way to react to my capricious defiance. I effortlessly implemented the art of war, causing them to panic and feel vulnerable. I emailed and flooded threads of the ESPN Poker Club staff with rants that were manufactured to get a specific reaction from them. Eventually my manipulation got them to enlighten me on the reason that there is cheating on a free website. I learned that the bots were use to falsify the number of players playing on the site to rip off the poker site sponsors. It was a crime few would discover, and even less would care about. I propagated this as the crime of the century in an effort take down these prideful techies that disdainfully ignore player’s of my caliber when trying to pass robots off for humans. Much happened in the early hours with my battle with ESPN poker. I was sent a virus through a thread they planned for me to copy. I even received an email from a random address confessing to what I already knew. The email read: “It took you a year to discover a bot simulated site from a non-poker affiliated organization”. During my attempts to expose these conspicuous lies, the staff was forced to erase a fake conversation of posts they created to bring credibility to their bot accounts. They basically attempted to build themselves up by making an army of ass-kissing accounts invented to bring undeserved tribute to the staff of idiots who were running this poker site. I was shocked to find that their egotistical, self-deprecating personalities were lame enough to defend their lies even after exposure. The pathetic and desperate impersonations orchestrated by the ESPN Poker staff were obvious to anyone familiar with human interaction. My estimate is that there was about 7-10 different people pretending to be over 50. I noticed some people were tricked by there lies and even believed they were part of the gang. This nihilistic staff, and those who ignorantly backed their propaganda, consisted of the most pathetic individuals I have ever, or will ever have knowledge of existing in any form of civilized society in this universe. Some of these tools were led to believe that poker bots were science fiction despite their existence being so easily verified. This is when I decided to tell ESPN customer service that I sent the information of their scam to the FBI. They were technically guilty of fraud, free-site or not, so I knew they would have to buy it. After my threat I witnessed the site go into cover-up mode. The total players on the site went from about 300 to 40, which made me understand why this scam may be a necessity to legitimize their poker site.
I became less and less concerned as time moved on and was banned any time I tried spreading the news of their petty crime. Any attempt to post my revelation was discarded and erased. I started to realize that it was time to move on. I had treated poker like a job, and was scammed, but to my avail, I became a poker playing machine. My play started receiving respect from all my friends and opponents. Local competition no longer challenged or satisfied me, so I began using poker as a tool to humiliate others, forcing them to accept my dominance. I couldn’t get people to play me for money. Soon enough, I realized humiliating people was not a fulfilling poker prize. Everyone knew, and even admitted, my ability was in a league of its own. My hometown fans revered my name at the poker table. After predicting the hands of my dad’s friends shortly after watching their game, my dad sent me off to Vegas. I drove my gas guzzling Ford Explorer from Baltimore to Las Vegas and eventually, after the lonely journey; I pulled up to the City of Lights. It was 1:00 AM and I was ready to play. I settled on playing in downtown Las Vegas and when I walked into Binons Horseshoe my poker career began. It didn’t take me long to make a name for myself. When you’re 23 years old, playing non-stop poker for day’s at a time, talking shit worse then anyone in the game, calling out players cards without being in the hand, and treating anyone who played poorly with complete disrespect, you get noticed. I was quickly accepted by the locals and became a constant fixture in the downtown Las Vegas poker rooms. I was an evil poker robot. My poker personality took over my identity. I felt so out of place with the old local poker veterans that my personal relationships became virtually non-existent. It wasn’t until I met a poker pro named “The Cornel,” aka “Jack-10 suited,” that I was able to have some semblance of a normal relationship. He was a Texas charmer that everyone seemed to know. Everybody wanted to play with him. His eccentric personality was unforgettable. He was said to be a two time bracelet winner in Omaha Hi PL back when the game wasn’t infested with idiots and the tournaments were much smaller. I became friends with him and he was able to bring me back to my occasional human form. He realized that my egomaniac poker table personality was not actually who I was and he enjoyed my sense of humor. He introduced me to guys I’d see on TV and boasted about my skills to people who met me. He was one player I always respected at the tables. Him and his friends also started to show concern for me when it became noticeable that I was taking too many prescription amphetamines, pain killers, and drinking all day long. It started to show on my face and I had to wear sunglasses to hide my eyes. I could still play poker but I’d be in drug induced zones that were hurting my game, and risking both my health and composure. Eventually I had a seizure at the Poker tables at Binions, but it was not the wake up call it should have been. As soon as I was conscious I went right back to the casino and started playing again. I started to learn that poker skills were not the hard part of living the lifestyle of a Vegas Poker pro. I was not ready to be off on my own with so many bad habits. I was addicted to the game and it was literally killing me.
After I finally got some sleep, I was able to return to the zone that I was finding increasingly difficult to maintain. I was once again the player with the skills that could draw crowds and make people submit. This day I even recall chasing a poker pro named James Souza from casino to casino. He was intentionally avoiding my formidable game and unintentionally strategic personality, in fear of embarrassment. I was purposely targeting him and trying to show him up because I remember watching him on TV during a WSOP tournament. He admitted that he did not want to play with me and my ego soared as I had a real poker pro submit to me. It wasn’t until later that I realized his decision was sagacity and not cowardice. He didn’t want to get into an ego battle and was able to walk away from a situation that was not financially in his favor. It was a lesson that I was too arrogant to keep with me at the time. Later, I was recruited by two young poker pros. It was then that I sold my integrity for the purpose of gaining advantage in the exploitative world of poker cheating.
I know that cheating is prominent in the poker world, and can usually pick out a cheater immediately. I hated people that didn’t play the game by themselves, but realized the temptation to increase odds of making money was irresistible. I knew the locals who were playing together, but they never tried to work me. The downtown local style of cheating was pretty much routine and even though I thought about exposing people; I was instead sucked into a culture with no boundaries and a mob-like environment that destroys the very game that fuels my ambition. I kept silent about the cheating because people who expose cheating were isolated and looked down upon. I wish I could go back but unfortunately, I made a mistake and justified cheating.
The guys who recruited me were amateur cheaters and had no clue how to work together. They attempted to use outdated methods of chip placement as signals instead of using the mathematical systems three players could use on a table to change the odds of the table in their favor. I didn’t have the energy to teach them how to cheat. We played some single player tournaments at The Rio and I won a bunch pretty much on my own, but split the winnings regardless. Even with our terrible cheating strategy it was easy to beat the recreational players who were normally at these tables. It was during the 2006 WSOP so the donkeys were out in full force. To my dismay, my health soon deteriorated, and I had another seizure while playing at a poker table. When I regained consciousness, I found my cheating compadres were there waiting for me. It quickly became a slightly less act of brotherhood between teammates after I realized that they gave me the majority of the prize since I was on the verge of winning. So my worthless team was waiting for their cut for doing nothing but taking up space at the table. I really started falling apart following my second seizure. I started losing money; I was not eating, and was a complete mess. I eventually decided I had to go home before I was unable to drive across the country, due to my fading health and growing depression. Despite having success against the best players I played in Vegas, I drove home feeling like a failure. I never got an apartment the entire six months I lived there and I never once attempted to do anything a normal adult would make a necessity. I was 23 years old and I couldn’t even take care of myself.
Coming home I lost much of my passion for poker, but there was still enough in me to try playing in Atlantic City. I wasn’t prepared for what I would realize that poker has sunk too. I went to the Taj Mahal to play poker and try and bring back some of the passion I lost from my experience at Las Vegas. This table would be the last I would sit at in a Casino. I was familiar with cheating and I dealt with it, but what I saw being implemented at the Taj Mahal in Atlantic City, New Jersey was a complete destruction of any and all respect left in game of poker. It took me an hour or so before I figured thing out, but when I saw what was going on I was in shock. They created a system of players who were playing as one in order to change the odds of victim player’s hands. It was organize crime on a mass scale where players are using preprogrammed playing styles in order to manipulate the statistics. It was so genius that I had to admire its perfection. Players have preset action that they follow which are developed for their position to you (the target). They created a way to profit in poker without having to rely on cards. They even had players who were basically just folding machines to fill tables with people who had one goal. Once I figure out what my table was up to, I had to show them I wasn’t a good person to try and pull a scam on. I predicted the actions of the players behind me every hand and bragged about how I figured out their system. I discussed the entire system of collusion with the scammer’s right in front of the dealer and learned it was common practice. I learned how players were being hired by the casino boss to play for the house. I did not leave the table despite knowing I was in a system of cheating. I grew more angry as I thought about poker was lowered to and started a commotion as I loudly called them out for the scum they are. When I went to the bathroom, most of my competition had left the table. But there was still a presence which was shooting for me. I moved all in after the man ahead of my moved all in with top pair, and I went all in with my set of 10’s. Unfortunately I was called by the guy behind me who I had been directing most of my hate towards. He had a K4 of heart and the flush draw which I knew was going to hit. He of course hit his hand and the room of soulless cheaters broke out in laughter as I was beaten. They were waiting for me to lose and mocking me as I walked out. I did my investigation into what I could find out from anyone at the Taj Mahal, but they treated me like I was a criminal.
My love for poker died in that casino. How could poker let itself sink this low? There is no one out their fighting to clean up the game. Poker cheating is not hard to detect and it is easy to prove with video of tables. It is time to clean up this game and end the culture which accepts ignoring the rules of poker. I am just one man and I detected cheating that is going without any regards for the punishment they would receive for the extremely illegal activity that is common in casinos like the Taj Mahal. If no one else is willing to protect the integrity of the game, then I am forced to be the one. Its time to fight poker cheating and clean up the game.